State v. Otto, 366 N.C. 134 (Jun. 14, 2012)

Reversing State v. Otto, 217 N.C. App. 79 (Nov. 15, 2011), the court held that there was reasonable suspicion for the stop. Around 11 pm, an officer observed a vehicle drive past. The officer turned behind the vehicle and immediately noticed that it was weaving within its own lane. The vehicle never left its lane, but was “constantly weaving from the center line to the fog line.” The vehicle appeared to be traveling at the posted speed limit. After watching the vehicle weave in its own lane for about ¾ of a mile, the officer stopped the vehicle. The defendant was issued a citation for impaired driving and was convicted. The court of appeals determined that the traffic stop was unreasonable because it was supported solely by the defendant’s weaving within her own lane. The supreme court disagreed, concluding that under the totality of the circumstances, there was reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop. The court noted that unlike other cases in which weaving within a lane was held insufficient to support reasonable suspicion, the weaving here was “constant and continual” over ¾ of a mile. Additionally, the defendant was stopped around 11:00 pm on a Friday night.